The impact of the coronavirus pandemic in the US real estate landscape is definitely not short-term. In fact, the rhythm may change forever. Companies are not yet very sure what exactly the future holds, but the whole shift to remote work setup has definitely brought valuable insights that businesses can leverage post-covid.
In a recent survey report from CBRE, in which over 126 huge companies responded, they were asked about their commercial real estate plans and 63% expressed that they’ll give employees more flexibility and choice over where they prefer to work every day. Only 25% said that they plan to offer their employees the choice to work remotely full-time.
After all, the myth that work from home arrangement isn’t productive and worthwhile has been debunked. Despite the initial skeptics, extensive remote work is way more viable than we realized. According to Levi Strauss CFO, there will be a culture change, and work from home or hybrid arrangement will become the new norm.
Even Google announced that they will give the hybrid model a try as most of their employees don’t want to travel to and from the office on a daily basis. Majority of the young working population is making the most of the trend and is slowly shifting to travel and ‘digital nomadic’ way of life. This could potentially be a huge and permanent shift especially for the new generation of workers.
Companies are also looking into the reduced costs the rising trend offers. Because of Covid, companies were compelled to make the big shift to remote work because of safety issues, but now, they are starting to make long-term decisions and thoroughly evaluate the reduced costs of the office space for rent as well as the necessary technology and tools to promote a strong hybrid workforce.
Though long-term shift to work from home and hybrid arrangements is alluring, business leaders also dislike the reduced opportunities for face-to-face meetings. After all, there could be a sense of more creativity and collaboration with in-person meetings. Live and dynamic group efforts can’t be fully replaced by online video conferences. Trust and relationships between colleagues may also be hampered.
If you look at it from a management perspective, the old way may seem better in a way, but if you view it from an HR standpoint, you can see the truth that some people like working from home, some people have mixed feelings, and some people just don’t.
Employee preferences should be taken into account, especially with the tight labor market the US and many other countries are facing. Businesses are bound to experience a labor shortage. Thus, effectively working on employee retention and recruitment can go a long way.
This is where openness to flexibility plays a huge role. Other people can work from home most days of the weeks; others may go back to the office for social connections. You also can have another option for those with mixed feelings– those who like the absence of commuting but don’t like the obligation to keep their video background neat and having to deal with distractions at home. Businesses can choose to secure a local co-working space or desk a few minutes from their home, and perhaps once a week, they can report to the central office. You don’t have to reserve the hybrid worker space in the main office, and you can arrange the schedule accordingly in such a way that different groups who need to work together in the office come together on the same days.
And speaking of co-working spaces, although they were negatively affected due to the pandemic, they’ll emerge stronger because companies post-Covid will maximize the value they offer in promoting flexibility and hybrid arrangements.
Besides that, in the future, every commercial real estate property will be subject to new trends and regulations. Open-plan layouts may be enforced to limit the risk of future pandemics. Even the standards as to HVAC, amount of enclosed space, and square footage per person may also alter.
After the pandemic, offices will remain as valuable, productive working spaces, but they will be used differently. Team leaders will then need to be more intentional when bringing their teams together for live, dynamic, creative collaboration.
The workforce arrangements and the office real estate market will be different in the future, but one thing is for sure, companies will always chase the opportunities and make the decisions that can bring forth the greater good.